Roe v. Wade is overturned. So now what?
Abortion is likely the issue of our generation, or at least a huge issue for our generation. Roe v. Wade was just overturned, ending nearly 50 years of abortion being protected by the Constitution. This article argues that abortion is sinful according to Scripture, and then addresses two common counter-arguments made from Scripture as well. Now that abortion is up to the states decide, Christians everywhere need to now get on their knees and pray. We pray for God to move, and we go move into action however we can.
It is often said by other pro-lifers that abortion is the issue of our generation. With the amount of things going on in our culture at the moment, it’s hard to say if there will be something bigger than this or not, but this is certainly a landmark issue for us. In order to react appropriately, we need to know what is going on, what we believe according to the Bible, and why we believe that.
What’s going on?
If you have managed not to hear, let me get you up to speed. I’ll try not to get too boring with the history, but here's a recap.
The story goes back to 1973 when the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade was made. You’ve probably heard of this case being touted around a lot recently. This case said that a woman has the “right to privacy” when it comes to abortion, and the government cannot interfere with a woman getting an abortion.
In 1992 this was solidified even more with the lesser-known case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey which said states cannot make laws restricting abortion within 24 weeks. These two cases are the issue because in 2018 the state of Mississippi passed a law banning abortions after 15 weeks, with the exception of medical emergencies.
Jackson Women’s Health Organization, an abortion clinic in Mississippi, promptly sued Thomas Dobbs, a health official in the Mississippi government, saying that it is an unconstitutional law, citing Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
Now we have the Supreme Court case, Dobbs v. Jackson. Back in May, a Supreme Court opinion was leaked for the first time in the Court’s history, which seemed to suggest that the decision going to be made would turn the issue of abortion back to the states, overturning both Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
We now know that the Supreme Court’s decision was precisely that, as they ruled the morning of this article being published. This does not make abortion illegal, though. All it means is that it is now an issue to be decided state by state. So now for the 2nd time this year, the entire nation is discussing abortion, and Christians need to be ready. What does that look like, though?
What does the Bible say?
As Christians, we always resort to the Word of God for our counsel. It teaches us wonderful truths about the world, and it should guide our thinking when it comes to how we view things in our culture. In Romans 12:2 Paul tells us why we look to Scripture for our guidance, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
Paul also tells us in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” First of all, “man of God” refers to a “messenger of God” and is not strictly masculine, but rather anyone who goes and proclaims the message of God. Second of all, Scripture did indeed refer to the Old Testament in the context of Paul writing this, but only because the New Testament was actively being written. It is not a stretch to extend his meaning to the rest of Scripture now that we have it.
With that sidebar out of the way, we can put these two Scriptures together and realize that we need Scripture in order to properly understand these issues. So what does the Bible say about abortion? The Bible does not speak directly to abortion, because it was understood in that culture to simply be murder, and that’s what I hope you see through this.
In the Biblical narratives, people consistently identify the beginning of their existence with their conception. Psalm 51:5 says “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” David attaches his identity to his conception. In Job 3:3, Job laments the beginnings of his existence, first about his birth, and then about his conception. In Psalm 139:13-16, David identifies with the fetus that he once was. These two men writing, inspired by God, say that their existences began with their conceptions.
The creation narrative of Genesis also shows that human beings have inherent value in their existence, regardless of anything within themselves. Genesis 1:27 says “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” If we are created by God, in His image, we reflect who He is. We have value intrinsically by being made by His hands and chosen to bear His image.
Birth is the means in which God brings us into the world, meaning that before we are born we are still bearing His image and created by Him. He has created the entirety of the universe, and fetuses do not escape the list of things that are made by Him. Since these fetuses are born into people, it does not make sense to say they are anything other than human beings made in the image of God, unless there is other Biblical reason to say so, which I do not believe there is.
Scripture also paints the picture of a God who knows all things and is beyond space and time. As much as He is within the universe and close to us, He is also beyond all things and outside of them. He knows the past, present, and the future fully. So in His eyes a fetus is the very same as the man or woman at 65 years of age, getting ready to retire. There is Biblical evidence for this too. God says to Jeremiah even, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you” (Jeremiah 1:5). Jeremiah was picked out by God as a prophet before he was born. When Jeremiah was a sperm and an egg, yet to meet or even to exist, God knew who he was. When Jeremiah was one fertilized egg, God knew who he was. When Jeremiah was born as a newborn, God knew who he was. When Jeremiah was dying, after fulfilling his role as a prophet of God, God knew who he was.
Abortion is killing a human being created by God, the Bible makes clear. I could go on longer if I had the time, but I also want to put more reason to us believing this view by addressing a couple of common arguments that are thrown at the pro-life community. However, I trust you will find that the Biblical evidence is abundantly against abortion if you look into it.
The “Pro-Abortion” Scriptures
There are two main Bible passages that people point to when wanting to defend abortion Biblically. The first is probably the easiest to show what’s actually going on. Exodus 21:22-25. Let me say what people think it means versus what the plain text says. For transparency, I am using the English Standard Version.
How it’s used:
“When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that she has a miscarriage, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judes determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”
“When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”
The confusion is with the phrase “so that her children come out.” There are 2 Hebrew words being used here. Their roots are “yatsa” and “yeled.” Yatsa means “to go or come out” and “yeled” means “child, son, boy, or youth.” The words used coming from those root words are actually “wayatsu yaladeyah” (transliterated because it’s a different alphabet, of course) and it is fairly agreed upon that it is actually referring to premature birth, not to a miscarriage. That means what is being said here, is if a pregnant woman is struck so that she gives birth with no harm done (the presumption is now to the woman, OR the baby) then there is simply a fine for the crime. But if harm is done, (again, woman or baby) then it is life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. These verses actually protect pregnant women and their children from harm done by others.
The other notorious Scripture is the infamous “abortion cocktail” passage. This is Numbers 5:11-31. If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to go read it for yourself, but I’ll summarize. If a man is suspicious that his wife has cheated on him, he brings her to the priest and the priest gives her this funky drink. If she has not cheated on him, the drink will do nothing. But if she has, it will make her “womb swell” and her “thigh fall away.” Weird. Here’s the problem with this passage. It is highly debated what is going on here. The womb swelling is pretty straight forward, the word for womb could mean body, belly, or womb. So it’s safe to say that it means womb, especially with the context. What’s debated is the word thigh. The ESV renders the word “thigh” as a safe translation, but it’s debated what the word actually means. It could mean “thigh, loin, side, or base.” I am nowhere near enough of a Hebrew scholar to give you an answer to that debate, so I’m sorry if that’s what you were looking for. I recommend going and doing research on it to see for yourself. However, ultimately it does not matter what this is. There are two options. Either this is a miscarriage, or something else entirely (and there are several things it could be, depending on how you read it).
If it is a miscarriage, then we need to realize that miscarriages are not abortions. Under abortion laws, women are not punished for having miscarriage. There is no abortion happening here. It is clear in the passage that God is the one bringing the curse through the water. God is causing a miscarriage if that is what this is, not encouraging someone to go get an abortion. This is also in a special instance, so even if this was encouraging abortion it would only be through a priesthood that no longer exists, under law that is no longer binding, in a very specific circumstance. Even in that instance, it does not give people free reign to get abortions. However, again, this is God striking someone with a miscarriage, not encouraging abortions.
If it is anything other than a miscarriage then… well, it’s definitely not an abortion in that instance and it’s safe to say that that is not what we are dealing with in this passage.
So now what?
There is so much to say about this topic and I could go on for much longer about different philosophical arguments, but I want to mostly stay in the lane of Scripture. Scripture is clear in what it teaches and if you believe in its authority, then you know that abortion is wrong. If you go and research the medical evidence for personhood at conception and the philosophical arguments against abortion, I trust you will find this is a supported view, but I am not qualified to give those arguments. Nor do I have the room in this already long article to go into detail about those. I will just assume that we are on the same page by this point of the article.
So abortion is Biblically wrong, and now Dobbs v. Jackson has officially ruled that abortion bans are constitutional, and the issue is to go to the states. What do we do now? We get on our knees and we pray.
Pray for the state legislatures across the country that now have the ball in their court and have to make the decision to protect life in their state; for the 13 states that have already banned abortions, that they will stand firm in their decisions and do what is best for everyone; for the 7 states that are moving towards abortion bans right now; for the 10 states where the future of abortion is uncertain; and for the 20 states where abortion is unlikely to be banned and is actually protected.
Pray for the victims of the abortion industry; for the unborn babies who have no choice in the matter; for the fathers who’s children are being murdered; and for the mothers who are told that they have no other choice.
Pray for the broken foster care system and adoption centers so that they receive babies with love and that God puts them into safe homes where they can be cared for and loved all of their lives.
Pray for women. That God be with all women across the country, protecting them and their rights. Protecting their value as women and more than just sex objects. Protecting the ones who feel they have no other choice. Pray that God moves all Christians to love women who are outside the Church, provide for them, and give them the other choice. Pray that pregnancy resource centers be funded and well equipped to provide for expecting mothers everywhere who cannot do it on their own.
Pray that God move in our country, to show His goodness and mercy as our country is about to erupt into chaos and confusion. If you feel led to do more than just to pray, to actually go do something and help women and their babies out, do it. If you are unable to do more than just pray, then just pray and continue to pray. It is not the least you can do. It is the most powerful thing you can do.